The Skilled Trades Gap

Dear Parents, What You Think You Know About The Skilled Trades May Not Be True

Jason Burns
Sr Content Strategist

Posted 06/14/2019

If your teen has come to you to announce they're more interested in pursuing a future in the trades than going to a four-year university, you may have some concerns. In the past, the skilled trades have been looked down upon, but the truth is that this career path can provide your child with a great salary, excellent job growth outlook and the flexible work-life balance that their generation is looking for. Here are four common myths about the skilled trades and why you shouldn't automatically discourage your child from thinking about them as a career path.

Myth #1: Skilled Trades Are for People Who Won't Do Well in College

While it's a common myth that the trades are what people who didn't have the best grades in school fall back on, this just isn't true. All of the trades, from plumbing and carpentry to electrical and painting, require an understanding of many advanced math and science concepts. Many students also find the hands-on application makes these concepts easier to understand, so just because your teen didn't care for algebra doesn't mean they won't be great at building houses.

Myth #2: Tradespeople Don't Make Enough Money

This myth comes from the fact that the skilled trades don't require a college education, and society drills into our heads that a degree is required to make decent money. However, this isn't true. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average plumber makes $25.92 per hour or around $53,910 a year, and electricians top this at $26.53 an hour average and $55,190 per year.

Myth #3: It's Difficult to Get a Job in a Skilled Trade

The shortage of skilled trade workers in the United States currently means that the expected job growth outlook for these jobs is often higher than average. The truth is there are just more open jobs available than people willing to go into the skilled trades. This means it's often easier for those willing to jump into an apprenticeship and start right away to find paying work than it is for those with degrees who are competing against a much larger candidate pool.

Myth #4: Skilled Trades Aren't a "Real" Career

The skilled trades are like any other job in that you start at the entry level (called apprentice) and work your way up. With these types of jobs, this means going from apprentice to journeyman to master. And with each of these steps comes more training, experience, pay, and job security. Those who make it to the master level can often earn upwards of $80,000 a year — sometimes more depending on location and other specialties like commercial work.

Myth #5: The trades are only for men

The fact is, over the past 10-20 years the trades have become much more inclusive with women making up nearly 10% of the workforce, and that number of growing. Looking for proof, just look at Instagram and the TradesWomen of IG for inspirational stories of everyday women working in carpentry, electrical and HAVC. In fact, the number of women working in the trades is expected to double over the next 10 years. 

While you may not have pictured your child as a plumber or carpenter, the skilled trades can be an excellent option for graduates who are ready to jump into the workforce and start earning right away without having to worry about years of schooling or tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.

Find out more about the different skilled trades and what they have to offer at Generation T.


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